After Nearly A Century, American Judaism STILL Can’t Be Bothered With The Difference

Hi, I’m MaNishtana, and right now I am seriously, seriously, seriously annoyed.

Yet again, in an amazing show of irresponsible journalism and a masterful tapestry interweaving falsehoods, half-truths, emotional pandering, and guilt-baiting, the latest article from Tablet Magazine reads “Black Jewish Congregations Get Their Own Prayer Book, After Nearly a Century”, with a heartstring-tugging subtitle of “Mainstream Judaism doesn’t recognize their temples or their rabbis. In a new siddur, Black Jews tell their community’s story.”

Look, I don’t know how, many, times I have to tell you, but this IS NOT BLACK JUDAISM. IT IS NOT BLACK JEWRY. IT IS NOT THE BLACK JEWISH COMMUNITY.

“West African Jewish” liturgy and traditions? Really? Do the Igbo know about this? The Sefwi? Because I’m willing to bet they’d be hella surprised that apparently there’s some Jewish tradition that apparently they should be following, since, y’know, THEY’RE ACTUALLY WEST AFRICAN JEWS.

I’m really not understanding why I have to keep reiterating this point. ESPECIALLY since you’ve already demonstrated that you understand the concept.

What am I talking about?

Well this article right here from–shockingly enough–Tablet Magazine.

In it, it describes a group of Christians–White Christians–who have taken on Jewish practices. Orthodox practices even, such as getting circumcised, laying tefillin, keeping kosher, keeping Shabbat and holidays, and growing peyot.

However, does Tablet say these folk are “Jews who mainstream Judaism doesn’t recognize”? That they are part of “American Jewry”?


In fact, how does Tablet describe this group? Well, let’s see:

“Many of the thousand-plus people who attended Revive 2013, a religious conference held at the Dallas Sheraton last June, wear tzitzit. Many keep kosher and observe the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Some of the men have beards and peyos. Some have even undergone adult circumcision and/or have circumcised their children. They learn Hebrew, Chumash, even Talmud, and travel whenever they can to Israel. All of them truly, deeply love Hashem.

Yet I’m fairly certain I was the only Jewish person there.”

“a movement of—for lack of a better term—Torah-observant gentiles. These are non-Jews who have no intention of converting to Judaism yet follow laws, customs, beliefs, and practices commonly associated with Judaism.

“Between classes I visited a small conference room on the second floor that acted as a makeshift day care. Most of the 20 or so children were wearing tzitzit, and some had yarmulkes—which are a rabbinic, not a biblical, precept. They listened as the counselors spoke about Hashem, forefathers, prayers, and Israel. When the children would get a little rowdy, the counselor would say a Hebrew prayer call-and-response: “Barchu es Ad-nai hamevorach!” And the kids would shout back, “Baruch Ad-nai hamevorach l’olam va’ed!”

“And many are fulfilling mitzvot that aren’t explicitly stated or detailed in the Torah, such as praying the rabbinic liturgy and observing Hanukkah. Some put on kosher tefillin every morning, and I met a number of Hebrew Roots followers who do not touch money on the Sabbath—which many of them call “Shabbos,” in the style of contemporary ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The unprecedented accessibility of Orthodox texts and ideas online has helped facilitate this appropriation.

“I asked Camero, as I asked everyone else I met, why he doesn’t simply convert to Judaism.

So…wait, you do get it Tablet and everyone else? You do get that just because a group of non-Jews has taken on Jewish and even Orthodox practices doesn’t mean that they are Jews?

For all those in the “Well I consider [these “Black Jews”] to be Jews” camp, do you also consider this group to be Jews, too?

So why is it when the group in question is Black, all of a sudden the group is a put-upon oppressed segment of Jews who aren’t being recognized by Big Judaism?

The discrepancy must only mean that, for all your enlightened, socially justified, forward-thinking, let’s-heal-the-world liberalism…you just don’t care.

Buy Thoughts From A Unicorn: 100% Black. 100% Jewish. 0% Safe.

worth it? really?

hey there kids.

so this past week, colleague and friend aliza hausman was interviewed by the jewish press about her choice about conversion, her blog, her experiences and such. it was a nice quaint interview. i myself read it whilst sipping a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace. however, whether she’s on her own blog, guest starring on someone else’s, or just a quick cameo, it seems our favorite jewminicana is just an eternal hate-magnet. a couple of lovely comments included accusations that she “lambast[es] the frum community”, “[doesnt cover] her hair to make a statement”, “constantly criticizes, mercilessly at times, our [jewish] community”, “makes us [converts] look bad”, and that ms hausman is generally a “misguided vengeful individual.”

[shakes head]

im sorry, maybe you dont realize it, but a lot of jews? especially frum ones? SUCK.

as ppl.

generally speaking, you dont know how to treat YOUR OWN, let alone jews of COLOR, let alone CONVERTS, let alone CONVERTS of COLOR. clearly ur iffy on the dynamics of “cause and effect” so let me just inform you that that tends to make for rightfully angry ppl, whether ffb, baal teshuva, or convert. what else do you think is one of the reasons for judaism losing adherents more than any other religion yearly?

and as for “misguided and vengeful” im sorry that ur so offended that there is someone out there who doesnt allow you to hide behind the puss-covered blanket of “lashon hara” that allows the bedsores of sexual abuse, housing scams, organ harvesting, herpes spreading mohels,and sexually propositioning conversion rabbis to fester. maybe if there were more ppl “constantly” “mercilessly” “criticizing” and “lambasting” the frum community, it wouldnt be in the shambling hypocritical state its in.

to aliza’s fellow convert [also dominican, as i recall] who lamented that aliza made all converts “look bad”: congrats. you really ARE part of the jewish ppl. here’s your ticket. just wait right there and an usher will guide you to your seat in the “you should have left us in egypt” section of the theater. stones are complimentary. also, yes, aliza is making a statement by not covering her hair. in short, it goes something like “i have fibromyalgia you fucking moron and if you’d BLINKED in the direction of my blog just ONCE you’d have noticed the NUMEROUS times i’ve mentioned the pain im constantly in, how excrutiating it is to cover my head, and ALSO that i have a HETER from my rabbi.”

also, my personal favorite, someone pulled out that famous go-to chesnut from yevamot 47b: “proselytes are as hard for israel [to endure] as scabs”. wow, you guys LOVE that one, dont you? so its time for a lil bio lesson here, since you seem to be a lil bit fuzzy on the purpose of a scab:


scab pronunciation (skāb)

  1. A crust discharged from and covering a healing wound.

see where im going with this? scabs are there b/c you’re wounded and they’re there to heal you, idiot. their purpose is to fix you. inconvenient? yes. but its not THEIR fault that you’re wounded. that ur careless. that you dont know how to take care of ur body. [ill trust everyone to be savvy enough to make the correlation/metaphor about the state of the jewish “body” and “soul” and converts being “scabs”. after all, we’re still in exile, right? so clearly things aren’t all peachy with the jewish ‘body”].

at any rate, i hope all you “scab” types arent the same ppl wishing “next year in yerushalayim” at the seder. b/c according to you guys, “scabs” like, say, ruth, wouldnt be welcome. though i hear she has some bigshot offspring or something–this “mashiach” guy ppl keep going on about. of course i guess if it were up to you he’d never get to exist.



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would you like fries with that?

hey guys, im back. sorry its been awhile but more on that later.


this past weekend i was helping a fellow joc of mine move. as always, we were met with the eternal moving conundrums of one: “wait, how the fack did you get this IN here??” and two: “and ur SURE we cant just throw this out the window?”  at any rate, we were wrestling with his mammoth couch down two flights of stairs when on the bottom landing, my friend’s [white, frum, jewish] landlady sees us hefting this couch around.

now, i suppose i should be grateful that–seeing three black jocs trying to remove a couch from an apartment building–she didnt call the cops on principle. [perhaps it had something to do with the non-joc jew with us. after all, groups of three or more jocs cant congregate w/o the man present, you know].  or perhaps my friend [her joc tenant] had acclimated her to the darker side of sears.  there’s some not-forced, fairly pleasant/benign conversation btw them.

then she says it.

she jerks her head in the direction of our epic couch battle and asks: “do you want me to get a couple of mexicans to move that for you?”

true story.

as nonchalantly as if she were gonna head down to the corner store and pick some up, or if she was asking me if i wanted to supersize my happy meal or something.

“oh how PRECIOUS of you to ask!”

i do believe my sarcasm was lost on her.

now, cmon my jews. there’s antisemitism, and then there’s rightly felt “i should facking slap the taste out of ur mouth you uppity white bitch who thinks she’s better than me b/c ur jewish.”

this reminds me of a similar story involving a civilian [i.e., non-jewish] ethnic friend of mine:

he pulls into a gas station with his very nice car. he’s getting gas. a couple of guido-jews [YOU know the kind im talking about…yarmulkes and gelled frosted tips…] pull in in front of him to get their gas for their MORE expensive car.  the two guidishses start having a convo and one of them sits on the hood of my friend’s car. and my friend LOVES his car.

friend: um, can you get up off my car.

guidish 1 gives confused “is that ant talking to me?” look.

guidish 1: what THIS? [scoff] this piece of shit?

friend: no i mean my car. can you have your conversation off my car?

guidish 2 [to guidish 1]: yo bro, i think he’s tryna play you.

friend now gives confused “is this ant talking to me?” look.

friend: did ur boyfriend just say im tryna play you? look you two need need to get up off my car with ur conversation.

guidish 2 [to guidish 1]: yo, you gonna take that, bro?

some yiddish is tossed back and forth

guidish 1 [to friend]: y’know what, i would? but i dont even consider this piece of shit to be car.

guidish 1 smudges friend’s car’s bumper with his shoe.

friend: wow. y’know i think maybe hitler had the right idea.

guidish 1 upon hearing “hitler” now gains self-righteous anger and kicks friend’s car. friend proceeds to beat shite out of guidish 1.

now sure, maybe the “hitler” deal was a little out there, but really, you can see where that kind of retort might possibly come from, no? from that arrogance? that sense of smug privilege, entitlement, and condescension where you think you can mock ppl’s possessions or refer to an entire ethnic group as a sale item at shop rite? [and im not even gonna address the fact that somehow whenever “holocaust” is mentioned the previous assholic behavior of the offender is somehow retroactively justified or excusable or something. never mind that, were the offender NOT jewish, they wouldve already been beat six ways till shabbos.]

but more importantly has EVERYONE just, i dunno, FORGOTTEN what a chillul Hashem is? b/c im pretty sure its still on the books.


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link love

so. im busy a lot, and i get a lot of article notifications that i’d LOVE to blog about. however, see the aformentioned “im busy alot comment”. so, taking a page from aliza hausman, i introduce “link love”, where ill be just posting articles up here just to get the word out. if i get to blog about them i will, if not, at least you guys get to see the source material.

today’s particular link is directed at the ppl who took offense to my mere suggestion that jocs should feel free to criticize israel if they so feel without being held hostage by their ethnicity. so to all those saying that ethiopians are treated “just fine” and “accepted” in israel and that racism is an “american” judaism problem or that there is no institutionalized racism in judaism, take a gander:

Israel’s treatment of Ethiopians ‘racist’ | Abesha Bunna Bet

feel free to get back to me when ur done.


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“Should Old Annoyance Be Forgot…”

here we are with 2009 on its way out and 2010 on its way in. as such, id like to list five new year’s resolutions of sorts [many of which have been inspired by aliza hausman]. now this isnt a list of things that i want to do, but of things i want others to do. and yes, i realize that im a big fat jew, so why am i jumping on the secular/pagan new year’s deal? well, b/c the things id like to see resolved spring from a decidely un-jewish frame of mind and thought, and since you bastards obviously didnt pray any of your idiocy off on rosh hashana, maybe this time you’ll get ur act together. LOL! [no, not really. not even a little bit.] anyhoo.

1. stop telling jocs that they’re too sensitive/complain too much/are career victims. really, its great that u perceive that ur particular inclave is joc-friendly [altho, to add just a lil bit of credence to the merit of ur purported statement, you may want to, i dunno, ASK the jocs in ur inclave how THEY actually feel the community treats them, not how you THINK they feel or SHOULD feel based on your necessarily limited knowledge and experience of the situation]. no, white ppl, just b/c you converted does not mean you are an automatic authority on the woes of the joc community. sure, you might feel some needling due to ur convert status, but that does not even begin to open ur mind to the waves of microaggressions and grade-a ignorance a joc undergoes on a near-daily basis.

1a. as an addendum, id also like to call a halt to statements like “i dont think its THAT bad.” “do you really experience THAT much racism?” “are you sure what ur experiencing isnt just slight unease?” [all of these are actual quotes, btw]. now, [although ill prolly get the same waves of emails asking why i feel the need to devolve to physical violence as i did for my jocslapping video] im gonna give you an example:

imagine that i was complaining that as a joc i was getting punched by people on a constant basis and ur response was “are you really getting punched THAT hard?” see, ur missing the point THAT IM GETTING PUNCHED. stop asking me if im really getting punched “that hard” or “that often”, just STOP FUCKING PUNCHING ME.

2. please, everyone, get over the assumption that racism and ignorance only exist in the orthodox jewish community. the reform and conservatives just do it in hipper clothes and with better hair.

2a. as an addendum: non-orthodox jocs, us orthodox jocs who speak of our negative experiences are not crazy. we feel great that you’ve had such lovely experiences, but sadly that has not been the case for all of us. it isnt something that “we” are “putting out there” or what “we” are “doing”. and although, no, not all ashkenazi or other non-jocs are rabid, horse-riding, sheet wearing racists, yes racism is pervasive and institutionalized in american judaism. please stop trying to tell us its not. when synagogues have in their constitution that “this congregation will not encourage or interfere with making proselytes under any pretence until he, she or they provide credentials…and, provided he, she, or they are not people of color” [congregation kaal kadesh, south carolina] and that the congregation is limited to “white isrealits [sic] only” [another synagogue whose name i cant recall at the moment] then yes, its institutionalized. when a rabbi receives death threats before attending their pulpit b/c they’re black [rabbi alyssa stanton], then yes, its pervasive.

3. randomly, j***h’s witnesses, please stop trying to recruit me while im walking down the block on shabbat in my jewniform. clearly, ive already been drafted by a team. however, im sure some of those guys over there in the dugouts could use your help more. and by “guys in the dugouts” i mean “those Gdless drug dealers over there on the corner”.

4. ppl who dont support/believe in the state of israel are not any more un-jewish than you are. theyre un-ZIONIST. yes “anti-zionist” is usually code for “anti-semitic”…if ur a NON-JEW. but if you ARE jewish, then you know the difference. please stop being so holier-than-thou. if i dont believe ur supporting the state of israel makes you a death-eater, then me not supporting the state of israel shouldnt make me lord voldemort. either way im sure we can BOTH agree that flying planes into buildings is a very not good thing to do.

5. black [and other ethnic] ppl: please stop condescending/pitying us jocs b/c you feel we abandonded your savior to be jews. more importantly, stop patting urselves on the back for remaining so blindly faithful to the religion that was forced down your throat and most responsible for stripping away ur original culture, enslaving you and oppressing you.

thank you for ur time.


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To Me, My Idiots…

random manishtana fact no 78: i worked in a comic book and videogame store for eight years. and im a proud dc boy. superman. bats. flash. justice league. yknow.  see, i never got the marvel universe.

actually, more to the point, i never got the deal with how the marvel universe reacted to mutants. everyone hated them. black, white, asian, gay, straight, everyone. that just didnt seem very realistic to me. was the marvel universe a world that never experienced slavery? jim crow?the holocaust? the japanese interment camps? that was the only way it made sense to me for everyone to be on board that mutants were all horrible and evil–if they themselves had never endured the same tyrannical oppression.

then, this past week i had a conversation with a co-worker of mine, an older jamaican woman. [i mention this b/c she’s 1-old enough to have lived through the civil rights era, 2-she’s jamaican, and therefore doubly well aware of how negative/derogatory stereotypes are slapped onto groups].  we got around to discussing the shooting at fort hood, at which point she bursts out that we should just round up all them muslim and send them back to where they came from b/c they keep killing ppl and she’s tired of it. and–get this–she even directly references the japanese interment camps as a positive example for precedent!

so i flip out a little.  “no one else is going around killing ppl” she says. what about timothy mcveigh?, i respond.  jim jones?  david koresh? where exactly should we ship those guys? christian american abortion clinic bombers?  aren’t those terrorists too? and since when is any group of anything  any one thing?? and let’s say you’re right. let’s say thats a good idea. whats to stop the govt from saying black ppl should be rounded up and shipped back somewhere? “well muslims are a threat”. to who?  who’s to say which group will be in power at what time to say that any particular group is a “threat”.  what’s to stop them from doing the same “round em deal” to anyone else? to you? [a logical notion that anti-abortion, anti-gay rights/marriage ppl still havent caught on to yet, btw…] didnt america close borders off a few years ago to jamaican immigrants/refugees b/c they were a “threat” bringing in drugs to the country?  were they?  “but the muslims are a threat! going around killing ppl!” and ppl say that black ppl are all on drugs and criminals.  are we? are you? am i?

“but ur jewish”

um, wow. at this point id like to sidetrack a lil and say, um, ok, i realize i push the “jew” thing a lot, so maybe some of you out there have forgotten or something? but this isn’t a spray on tan im rocking. i was pretty sure it went without saying that im also black. very black. i drank tropical fantasy when i got out of school like everyone else, played the dozens, and ill get pulled over the same way any non-jewish black guy would for “fitting the profile”. during the holocaust, my family was a lil bit too busy getting lynched down south over here in america [and then for the next twenty years after that] so you’ll have to forgive us if we were a tad distracted during that whole deal.

coming back to the delicious gumbo of disbelief, anger, indignation, and the urge to jocslap a 54 yr old jamaican woman that was stewing within, it was literally at that moment that i realized–actually thought it at that very second–“so this is how the narvel universe works.”

because people are fucking STUPID.

also, apparently i need to work on a string of “hey lookit! lookit! im black” posts for the blog.


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the other black meat

“[cham] emerged from the ark black-skinned, and all his descendants are also black forever”—the midrash says, 1980

ahh, the good ol’ “hamitic myth”.  very multi-purpose, this one, capable of building bridges between jews and christians even, as not only was it the logic employed by “religious” european christians in the face of slavery as justification for barbaric acts of subjugation, it is also one of the pillars behind the subversive culture of racism and condescension that lurks within the bowels of Judaism

for the uninitiated, the “hamitic myth” or “curse of ham” is as follows:  while in the ark, Gd commands that every being within refrain from marital relations with their spouse.  all comply with this command with the exception of the dog, the raven, and ham.  the dog and raven receive punishments, but ham, according to the most prevalent interpretations, has his skin turned black, and so all his descendants are black-skinned forever.  and so that how negroes were born.  alternatively, when noah and family leave the ark, noah plants a vineyard, gets plastered, and passes out, naked.  ham happens to pass by and see naked passed out noah and commits acts [depending on the interpretation] ranging from doing up his dad, castrating his dad, or doing up his mom.  excellent. anyhoo, when noah wakes up and gets caught up to speed, he curses canaan, ham’s son, to forever be a slave to his brothers.  and that’s why it’s okay to make black ppl slaves.

are you guys all still with me? great.  now pay attention.  this is where things get complicated.

the problem with the hamitic myth, is that none of the sources attributed to it actually state it.  the myth is supported by ambiguous talmudic statements which were translated by later medieval european commentators [most notably rashi] who no doubt looked at these sources through the lens of their society and applied racism where it was not originally intended or implied. and let’s face it: medieval europe wasn’t exactly the most “yay, black people!” place in the world.

to recap, the myth claims that the children of ham are cursed with black skin and are destined to be slaves because of the sin in the ark and the abuse of noah. which is false. ham was cursed in his skin for having relations in the ark, and only canaan was cursed to be a slave to the other brothers. the children of ham weren’t cursed in their skin, and not all the children of ham were cursed to be slaves. now on to the sources.

one of the chief and earliest sources [if not the first] is sanhedrin 108b which states:

שלשה שמשו בתיבה וכולם לקו כלב ועורב וחם כלב נקשר עורב רק חם לקה בעורו

loosely translated, the line reads “three copulated in the ark and they were all punished: the dog, and the raven, and ham.  the dog [will be] tied [i.e., presumably as a pet], the raven spits [apparently this is part of the sex act for ravens], and ham was smitten in his skin.”

note there is no mention of skin color.  hence, this line could mean ham was stricken with any number of ailments in his skin.  my personal opinion on this is that the aforementioned “smiting” was tzaraat/leprosy based on:

1-leprosy seems to be Gd’s modus operandi for “smiting”-type punishment [see pharaoh (gen 12:17/arachin16a), moses (ex 4:6), miriam (num 12:10), gehazi (2 kings 5:27), uzziah (2 chron 26:19), et al]

2-leprosy is one of the punishments for sexual immorality (arachin 16a)

at any rate, based on this verse, there is no substantiation for the assumption that ham was turned black.  which is interesting, b/c the footnote for the quote i posted at the very beginning of this piece lists sanhedrin 108b as its source. wait.  what’s that you say?  well look at that.  apparently, the first hint of color is added to this 6th century source through an 11th century footnote by the famed author of the first comprehensive commentary on the talmud, the medieval french rabbi rashi.  rashi explains “smitten in his skin” to mean: “i.e., from him descended cush (the negro) who is black-skinned.”

hmm.  the plot thins.  also, not sure why cush is suddenly in the ham-canaan equation, but anyway on to bereshit raba 36.

ר הונא בשם ר יוסף אמר: אתה מנעת אותי מלעשות דבר שהוא באפלה לפיכך יהיה אותו האיש כעור ומפחם

ok, so noah says to ham that since ham [going according to the opinion that ham castrated noah] prevented noah from doing what is done in the dark [i.e., the wild thing], ham’s seed is cursed to be, according to popular translations, “dark”.  there’s a problem here though, since the word for dark is אפל not מפחם, and although i’ve seen several translations which render מפחם as “dark” or “dusky”, it actually means neither.  מפחם is actually related to פחם, which means “charcoal”.  meaning the line in bereshit raba should probably translate “your seed will be like charcoal”.  having skin like “charcoal” is very different from being “dark”, “dusky” or even “negro”.

on an additional note,  מפחם as used in the context of the above line does not even necessarily have to mean “dark like charcoal” as it shares the same root with שיתפחמו which means “deface” as in the example given later on in the same source:

אמר המלך גוזר אני שיתפחמו פניו

“the king declared: i decree that his effigy be defaced.”

The interpretation of מפחם relating to “deface” supports my leprosy hypothesis since leprosy can be seen as a form of “defacement” both physically and socially.

however, staying on the translation of “charcoal”, let’s jump forward to 18th century spain where me’am loez quotes the 6th century tanchuma as stating ham received five punishments, three of which are:

1-his eyes became red, 2-his lips became “thick and gross like those of a negro”, 3-the hair of his head and beard became kinky. [by the way, noticed yet how there’s no discernable link from ham’s curse of blackness to canaan’s curse of eternal slavery? or from canaan’s curse of eternal slavery rebounding back to all of ham’s children? or ham’s cursed skin being inherited by all his children? perhaps im just overlooking a source…]. anyhoo, we reach another snafu, since, again, the “source” doesn’t exactly state this:

וחם על שראה בעיניו ערות אביו נעשו עיניו אדומות, ועל שהגיד בפיו נעשו שפתותיו עקומות, ועל שחזר פניו נתחרך שער ראשו וזקנו, ועל שלא כסה הערוה הלך ערום ונמשכה לו ערלתו, לפי שכל מדותיו של הקב”ה מדה כנגד מדה

translation? ham’s eyes became red. his lips became twisted or crooked. his hair became singed. big difference between “thick and gross” and “crooked”, right?  between “kinky” and “singed”? combine this whole picture of a red-eyed man with singed hair, twisted lips and skin like charcoal and we get a figure resembling someone who’s been burned, no? perhaps divine-fire style ala nadav and avihu only not killed because he was necessary in the repopulation of the Earth? at any rate, i think its pretty safe to say some creative embellishment took place over the course of the centuries.

also, rebounding canaan’s curse of slavery to all of ham’s children, rendering מפחם as “dark” or “dusky”, and extending ham’s curse to all of his line offers the following problems:

1-if we go by the interpretation that all of ham’s offspring were cursed with dark-skin forever, thereby leading to the conclusion that all dark-skinned ppl are descended from ham, the problem is that elam, asshur, mesha, ophir and sepher are descended from noah’s son shem [who is also the progenitor of abraham and thus all jewry].  according to aryeh kaplan in “the living torah“, these nations are identified with medea[persia], assyria, mecca, india, and southern arabia, respectively. all of these peoples and places range from “dusky” to “dark-skinned.” so if dark-skinned people exist only because of the curse on ham and canaan, how did these nations end up with dark skin?

2-moses’ hand turns white. as white as snow, in fact. now if he was a fair-skinned person, then this means his skin turned an unnatural shade of white, which means by extension, ham and cannan’s skin turned an unnatural shade of black. or, if he were darker-skinned and thereby so shocked at the change of his hand color that it was compared to snow, then this means he was considerably dark-skinned, which again begs the question how, if all dark people were so colored because of ham’s curse?

3-canaan was cursed. this is why eliezer was sent to find a wife for isaac from abraham’s family instead of from the canaanites they lived among, b/c there can’t be a good union btw the blessed [isaac] and the cursed [a canaanite girl]. if the curse is extended to all of cham’s offspring, this is problematic, considering that moses marries tzippora, who is later identified as a cushite, thus descended from cush, one of ham’s offspring, and therefore cursed.

do ppl still question why jocs need a voice? or need to step it up in terms of observance and participation in judaism? why we need to establish our own? there’s a whole wealth of options and interpretations that arent even being humored, let alone considered, and judaism for the past thousand years or so has for better or for worse been looked at solely through a european lens. lets get the rest of the picture out there too, shall we?


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As Seen On TV!

so im in the editing room, editing some blog footage of mine with a friend. some white dude sees the text “manishtana” next to this black dude on screen [me]. you know the kind of white dude. the [secular, jewish] kind whose ears perk up when hebrew terms find themselves inappropriately leaving ethnic mouths, so they feel the need to investigate on behalf of the jewish people as compensation perhaps for being religiously lax in their own lives.

anyhoo, he asks what the footage is about since he sees me in it wearing–and i quote–“what is called a yarmulke in my world.” now im incognito at the time [“incognito” meaning i like fedoras, so i was wearing one and not particularly feeling like taking it off to prove i was jew-flagging], so i just play the rough cut of the vid, since a simple viewing of it would answers his questions.  of course, his moment of clarity was not exactly how i expected:

“ah, i see. the character is jewish.”


couldnt have MADE that up.

oh, yes, MaNishtanaTV is coming ppl. b/c print is becoming increasingly inadequate to berate ppl via.


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Gestapo Correctness

so i decided id start the week off with a bang.

when did intraracial relationships become a crime? [incidentally, according to dictionary and “intraracial” isn’t a word].  the reverse racism reaction to the explicit anti-miscegenation laws of the jim crow era seems to be the implicit “miscegenation mandate” of our generation.  apparently freedom of choice is never hard to abolish.

there’s the “dear abby”-like carolyn hax, who flat out declares a white girl who “prefers to date white guys” to be a racist. [check it out here]. um, huh? when did having personal preferences start translating into being racist?  following this logic, are all gay men misogynists because they prefer—in fact, only—date men?  are all lesbians now misandrists [thats someone who hates men, kids] because they refuse to date anything other than a woman?  when did the fairly benign “i like to date tall guys” attitude explode into full-blown klan-itis when the statement is “i like to date [insert own race here]”.

the once refreshing mist of political correctness seems to be curdling into an asphyxiating smog of reverse-intolerance.

however, i am curious as to how this girl relayed her preference information to her friends.  if it was “i don’t date black guys” then yes, carolyn hax was dead-on. chick’s a racist. but if it actually was “i prefer to date white guys” then no, she just has a preference. there’s a difference between “im for x” and “im against y”. the outcomes might be the same, but as my budding philosopher friend keeps drilling into my head, its all about intent.

for example.  if there was a bill being proposed that would ban abortion across the country, id vote against it. why? not because im particularly for abortion [i find its used far too frivolously nowadays. like it’s a birth control pill or something] but b/c im against any government having the power to tell someone what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. but in the end i end up voting against an abortion bill the same way as some chick who is deathly afraid of condoms, birth control, and plan b, but insists on using her hoop earrings as ankle holders every friday night.

see the difference? same deal with race and relationships.

just b/c “white guy a” doesn’t date indian women isn’t necessarily b/c he’s thinking “indian girls are [insert a ton of negative qualities here]”. it could just as easily be b/c he thinks “white girls are cool”. although dont get me wrong, the first option is still possible.  racism kicks in when a person has a list of abstract qualities desired in a partner which don’t inherently include a need for an ethnic or cultural homogeneousness, yet they turn away a potential partner from another race solely based on the other person’s race and not their own personal preference.

for example, ive found attractive and been attracted to pretty much everything under the sun, some more or less than others. [btw, there is a difference between “finding attractive” and “being attracted to”. “finding attractive” means you just want each other’s fun parts to meet each other.  “being attracted to” means you can see yourself in relationship with this person. in concurrence with frequent meeting of said fun parts.] however, i seek relationships with black women b/c of the familiarity, the desire to come home to someone who “gets” what im complaining about, to be with someone how intimately understands who prejudiced this country can be, etc, etc.  these are things i cant achieve [maybe partially, but not completely] with, say, a korean girl. so i don’t date korean girls.  not b/c korean girls are particularly horrible. [except for you, gae].

in the end, however, this creeping culture of not being allowed to [non-racistly, of course] state your preferences and what you want to go home to is dangerous, oppressive, and ironically strips away the very freedom of choice that interracial relationships are a symbol of.  neither inter nor intra-racial relationships are for everyone. and as for those ppl who are genuinely racist, i say leave them be.  why force them into an interracial relationship and inflict their unsuspecting partner to a prison term of racial fetishism and superficial “love“?

does that sound very fair?


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Melacha Day Parade

sure this is a lil bit late, but i have a suggestion id like to make.

i would suggest that [rampant near-nakedness, general drunkenness, and occasional homicide aside] every jew, and especially every jew of color, should see the west indian day parade at least once. [and if you’re a jew who saw it pre-conversion, see it again post-jew]. i used to live in crown heights and remember listening to the music as each float passed by.  occasionally id get an extended glimpse of the parade before being shooed away from the window by my parents b/c of the slackness [500 pt caribbean slang bonus!] happening outside. but when i was a grown up, i was dragged practically kicking and screaming over to the parkway one year [“kicking and screaming” not b/c i was particularly trying to avoid the slackness [1000 pt double word score!], but b/c im not a big fan of people. can you tell?].

anyhoo, im glad i went.  because as im watching float after float go by with its different music and people dressed in their island’s flag and eating their different foods and flowing with their island’s pride and having a good time i couldn’t help but think “is this how it used to be back in the day when ppl brought bikkurim?  or would head up to yerushalayim for the shalosh regalim waving their tribe’s banner?” and channeling that present energy into vicarious enjoyment of the past was a really, really, really, good feeling. and there’s something i think we can all learn from the labor day parade.

for example, at the parade every float comes and reps its country with its own distinctive music, food, etc. and revels in it and celebrates it. but can we imagine if there was a jewish labor day parade? we’d have the ashkenazi float [with all its chabadnik, litvisher, yechi, na-nach, etc sections] and its gefilte fish, the sephardi float and its rice and beans, the temani float and its full beged-kefet, and the joc float that…well, is just pretty much the same thing we just saw in every other float, just differently ethnic. because as it stands, there’s nothing about us that would warrant its own float beyond skin.  and that’s part of why [part of why] we are looked at skin first: b/c that’s the only difference, really.  i mean, ashki/sefard and ashki/temani are also divided along a similar white v brown or less white axis.  but what comes to mind as the difference? no kitniyot v rice & beans for pesach.  tav/sav v gefen/jefen. if we’re to be looked at beyond color, then what we bring to the table needs to evolve beyond color.

as ive posted before, b/c jocs have a tendency to either join whats already around or wash away their ethnicity, instead of using their ethnicity to define and shape their observance and practices.  and whenever i propose that jocs should allow their backgrounds to influence their judaism, to create a minhag just the same way that europeans and north africans and middle easterners allowed theirs to create “ashkenaz” “sephard” “temani” etc, not only is there resistance from [some] jocs who for some reason cant comprehend the concept of having somewhere/thing that is your own, there are also opponents among those who have the luxury of actually having a homebase to operate from. their reasoning is “why cause more divisions?” [somehow oblivious to the fact that of course they don’t see the need for someone else to create what they themselves already have].

but do we really think that if, say, tobago broke off from trinidad and established itself as a separate culture that the rest of the west indies would be up in arms? that they’d try to stop them?  or do we think they’d just accept the new independent tobago and afford it the same respect in the parade as the rest of the islands. i mean they let puerto rico march, and they already have their own separate parade.  hell, guyana isn’t even invited and they still get to march. [give it up with the west-indian thing, guys. we all know you’re part of south america].

while some say it and mean it in its intended unifying sense, most of judaism seems to cling to the “a jew is a jew is a jew” mantra as a means to extinguish and discourage cultural individuality rather than to emphasize the beauty that despite being different with a disparate number of customs, we all follow the same torah as equals.  cmon now ppl, we haven’t learned yet to talk to the rock  instead of hitting it?

and then of course there’s the lesson of unity.  sure, every other day the rest of the year things may devolve into “this island” v “that island” confrontations or hostilities. or bad mouthing over who has better men or women.  but no matter what their differences are, they are all able to come together this one day every single year, leave everything else at the door, and say “we are all west indian, and let’s celebrate that. even you guyana. even though you’re really not.

now maybe this is just my experience, but ive rarely run into jews who are able to suspend whatever weekday prejudices they have for shabbat or chagim and say “we are all jews, and let’s celebrate this day together as jews.” i mean, some ppl are able to squeeze some of that out for rosh hashana and yom kippur, but lets be real, you’re just afraid youre gonna die so you’re trying to rack up some last minute points. come say hi to me and shake my hand when the spectre of death isn’t sitting on your living room couch drinking tea.

but anyways.

when i look at the labor day parade, im looking into a window into the past of what we were and into the future of what we can be again.  im not seeing that dude painted black with horns glued to his forehead surrounded by cantily sclad gyrating women, im seeing the ox with its gold covered horns carrying bikkurim surrounded by a procession of farmers and musicians bringing them to the bet hamikdash.  im not seeing the drunk dudes falling over themselves drinking guinness, im seeing a couple of guys who got caught up in the moment and feeling of simchat torah in yerushalayim and got a lil bit too carried away. im not seeing that girl convinced she can wear that too small flag as a dress…ok, so i am seeing that girl, but im also seeing the, um, y’know, the—okay so im just seeing the girl. 

but c’mon, she’s hot.


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